Friday, April 3

More Green Porno: Spiders

I love these, they are hilarious. More to come... (from

Thursday, April 2

Giant Panda at Castaways Tonight

Don't forget that GPGDS is playing at Castaways tonight. For more info...see the sidebar.

Green Porno

Check it out, "it's funny, but it's a little sick too, and also very informative" - Angelina Rossellini:

For more...
Green Porno

Science Works to Ensure Safe Food

During the most recent outbreak of salmonella poisoning, which was connected to peanut butter and other peanut products, the food-borne bacteria has sickened nearly 700 people and may have contributed to the death of nine, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration reports. That came on the heels of an outbreak last summer, finally traced back to jalapeño peppers imported from Mexico, that was responsible for more than 1,400 infections, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports.

And when deadly pathogens enter the food supply, the financial costs can add up, too. The peanut butter salmonella outbreak caused the recall of thousands of peanut-related products, and Georgia Peanut Commission executive director Don Koehler says the total loss could be more than $1 billion.

So what are researchers doing to protect our food?
Read more...or check out this slideshow.

And You Thought You Were Old

And you thought you felt old: Last week, in the village of Prishakhtinsk in central Kazakhstan, Sakhan Dosova celebrated what she, her family and Kazakh officials all agree was her 130th birthday. If true, her advanced age would shatter the old-timer record set by Jeanne Calment, who died in Arles, France, in 1997 at the age of 122.

Dosova has a passport and an identification card verifying she was born March 27, 1879; she doesn't have a birth certificate but apparently that is because such records were not routinely kept where she grew up in the late 19th century. Soviet census records, however, list her as being 46 years old in 1926, further supporting Dosova's über-Methuselah status. (To add perspective, if Dosova's story is true, she was pushing 40 during the 1917 Russian Revolution and when World War I ended in 1918, and she was born the same year as Albert Einstein and Joseph Stalin.) Read more...



Editor's note: The following is an excerpt from Green: Your Place in the New Energy Revolution by Jane and Michael Hoffman.

Greenwashing is what happens when a hopeful public eager to behave responsibly about the environment is presented with "evidence" that makes an industry or a politician seem friendly to the environment when, in fact, the industry or the politician is not as wholly amicable as it or he might be. We touched on this concept when we talked about the Christmas tree-growing industry presenting partial evidence of its ecobenefits—tree farms as carbon sinks—while neglecting to mention the polluting pesticides or harvesting helicopters. Greenwashing is a marketing strategy, and one the public might grow ever more susceptible to as our need for energy expands and the CO2 in our atmosphere continues to accumulate. As we grow ever more anxious for answers to our energy problems, we need to foster a healthy skepticism and understand that some of the answers that result won't be wholly reliable. Read more for additional examples of greenwashing...

Plan B for Energy: 8 Revolutionary Energy Sources

Plan B for Energy: 8 Revolutionary Energy Sources
If efficiency improvements and incremental advances in today's technologies fail to halt global warming, could revolutionary new carbon-free energy sources save the day? Don't count on it—but don't count it out, either
Editor's Note: We are posting this feature from our September 2006 issue in light of the Obama administration's renewed focus on how to power the country without overloading the atmosphere with greenhouse gases.

To keep this world tolerable for life as we like it, humanity must complete a marathon of technological change whose finish line lies far over the horizon. Robert H. Socolow and Stephen W. Pacala of Princeton University have compared the feat to a multigenerational relay race. They outline a strategy to win the first 50-year leg by reining back carbon dioxide emissions from a century of unbridled acceleration. Existing technologies, applied both wisely and promptly, should carry us to this first milestone without trampling the global economy. That is a sound plan A.


Sooner or later the world is thus going to need a plan B: one or more fundamentally new technologies that together can supply 10 to 30 terawatts without belching a single ton of carbon dioxide. Energy buffs have been kicking around many such wild ideas since the 1960s. It is time to get serious about them. “If we don’t start now building the infrastructure for a revolutionary change in the energy system,” Hoffert warns, “we’ll never be able to do it in time.”

But what to build? The survey that follows sizes up some of the most promising options, as well as a couple that are popular yet implausible. None of them is a sure thing. But from one of these ideas might emerge a new engine of human civilization. Read more to find out what they are...

Caffeine Cuts Workout Pain

Check out this podcast from 60 Second Science (partial transcript follows):
Coffee before biking? You may have to stop on the side of the road sooner, but new research suggests that caffeine can help you get more bang from your workout buck, because it keeps you from feeling the burn. Read the rest of the transcript...

Fact or Fiction: Raw veggies are healthier than cooked ones

From (featuring a Cornell professor):
Cooking is crucial to our diets. It helps us digest food without expending huge amounts of energy. It softens food, such as cellulose fiber and raw meat, that our small teeth, weak jaws and digestive systems aren't equipped to handle. And while we might hear from raw foodists that cooking kills vitamins and minerals in food (while also denaturing enzymes that aid digestion), it turns out raw vegetables are not always healthier. Read more...

Tuesday, March 31

The Dalai Lama on Science and Religion

The Dalai Lama "favors scientific evidence over classical Buddhist concepts" (from
Editor's note: We are posting this feature from our February 2006 issue to commemorate the 50th anniversary this month of the Dalai Lama's forced exile from China.

Many years ago a curious boy looked through a telescope and, on seeing the shadows in the craters of the moon, realized that he had to make a choice. His religion taught him to respect the moon as a generator of light, but science taught him that the moon reflected the sun’s rays. The subtle clarification offered by science ultimately trumped the Buddhist interpretation for Tenzin Gyatso, the current Dalai Lama.

Today when this political and religious leader is faced with conflicting explanations of life’s mysteries, the Dalai Lama still favors scientific evidence over classical Buddhist concepts. At a time when Americans are battling state by state for religion-free science education, he urges people to take a path of peace between the perspectives. An estimated 14,000 people attended his lecture on November 12, 2005, at a meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in Washington, D.C., with most of them watching from overflow rooms where the talk was broadcast on large screens. Dressed in gold and crimson robes, he suggested a healthy dose of skepticism toward religious pronouncements. Although science can overturn spiritual teachings, people can benefit from scientific understanding without losing faith, he reasoned. Read more...
More on the 50th anniversary of the exile of the Dalai Lama (from
China has overseen a "brutal crackdown" in Tibet since protests shook the Himalayan region last year, part of decades of Chinese oppression that have driven Tibetan culture to the verge of extinction, the Dalai Lama said Tuesday in a speech to mark the 50th anniversary of the failed uprising that sent him into exile. Read more...
NPR podcast on 50th anniversary of the exile of the Dalai Lama

On the topic of the Dalai Lama and the influence of Western culture on his views...if you haven't seen Seven Years in Tibet, watch it NOW!

New All Electric Vehicle

From 60 Second Science:
After providing some teaser shots, Tesla Motors yesterday let everyone get an eyeful of the new Model S, the company’s $57,400 all-electric new prototype vehicle. Like its sports car cousin, the $109,000 Roadster, the Model S relies on lithium ion batteries for its juice, giving the auto a top range of 300 miles (482 kilometers) after a 45-minute charge, the company says. The need for speed has not been neglected: The Model S reportedly revs up from zero to 60 in 5.5 seconds. Read more...

Running Out of Water

The Ogallala Aquifer:
Saving a Vital US Water Source
Key Concepts
  • If spread across the U.S. the aquifer would cover all 50 states with 1.5 feet of water
  • If drained, it would take more than 6,000 years to refill naturally
  • More than 90 percent of the water pumped is used to irrigate crops
  • $20 billion a year in foodand fiber depend on the aquifer

On America’s high plains, crops in early summer stretch to the horizon: field after verdant field of corn, sorghum, soybeans, wheat and cotton. Framed by immense skies now blue, now scarlet-streaked, this 800-mile expanse of agriculture looks like it could go on forever.

It can’t.

The Ogallala Aquifer, the vast underground reservoir that gives life to these fields, is disappearing. In some places, the groundwater is already gone. This is the breadbasket of America—the region that supplies at least one fifth of the total annual U.S. agricultural harvest. If the aquifer goes dry, more than $20 billion worth of food and fiber will vanish from the world’s markets. And scientists say it will take natural processes 6,000 years to refill the reservoir.

The challenge of the Ogallala is how to manage human demands on the layer of water that sprawls underneath parts of eight states from South Dakota to Texas. As landowners strive to conserve what’s left, they face a tug-of-war between economic growth and declining natural resources. What is happening here—the problems and solutions—is a bellwether for the rest of the planet. Read more...

Turning Off Computers at Night Could Save Billions

From 60 Second Science:
The computer you're reading this on may not seem like a huge energy waster, but the power consumption adds up when joined by the other PCs worldwide (Stamford, Conn., research firm Gartner estimates there are more than 1 billion). A study released last week puts a finer point on this assertion, reporting that U.S. workers waste $2.8 billion annually in energy costs by failing to shut off their PCs at the end of the work day. What's more, machines left on during off hours may emit up to 20 million tons of carbon dioxide (C02) this year alone, roughly the equivalent impact of four million cars. Read more...

Monday, March 30

Countries Waiting for US to Make First Move

U.S. special envoy for climate change Todd Stern warns that although many countries are looking to the US to make the first move toward supporting a global treaty to combat climate change, they should not expect the US to "ride in on a white horse" and solve the problem (from

BONN, Germany (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama's administration promised to push for a new global treaty to fight global warming at United Nations climate talks on Sunday but cautioned it had no magic wand.

"The United States is going to be powerfully and fully engaged," U.S. special envoy for climate change Todd Stern said at the opening of 175-nation U.N. talks in Bonn.

"But we are all going to have to do this together, we don't have a magic wand," he told a news conference at the March 29-April 8 meeting in Bonn, the first since Obama took office. The U.S. delegation was greeted by applause at the opening. Read more...

Sunday, March 29

Combined Feed (New Scientist)

I have too much fricking work!!! Which means no time for blogging, and you get a combined post with all the coolest most interesting new stuff from

Flowers on the Moon?

A firm that has designed habitats for plants and animals living in microgravity now hopes to grow the first flowers on the moon, the company's founders announced on Friday.

Engineering firm Paragon Space Development plans to build a greenhouse to fly to the moon. It is set to travel on a lunar lander designed by Odyssey Moon, a competitor for the Google Lunar X Prize, a $30 million contest to send an unmanned lunar rover to the moon. Read more...

Locked Drugs

Future drugs could feature built-in security to prevent them reaching the wrong tissue inside the body, says an international team of biochemists.

The researchers have developed a light-activated "combination lock", a molecule that only becomes active when exposed to two distinct colours of light in the right order. It could provide a way to ensure that small packages of drugs deliver their payload only exactly where and when it is needed, says Joakim Andréasson at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden. The lock was developed with colleagues at Arizona State University.

Molecular locks have been made before. But they used chemicals as the trigger, which makes for a sluggish system, says Andréasson, because they diffuse slowly through the body. Using pulses of light is much faster and also allows the lock to be opened and closed repeatedly, because there are no chemical residues to foul the molecular mechanism. Read more...

Artificial Baby Butter Increases Healing

AN ARTIFICIAL version of the buttery coating that protects and nurtures a fetus's developing skin could find a use outside the womb, in speeding up wound healing and treating eczema.

Natural vernix caseosa contains a mixture of fatty compounds that waterproof the fetus. Crucially, it also contains dead cells called corneocytes, which store large amounts of water and ensure that the fetus does not get dehydrated. Vernix may also act as a barrier to infections. Read more...

California Considers Ban on Blacks (cars that it)

News that California may ban the sale of black cars for climate protection reasons raised the hackles of many a petrolhead yesterday.

At the root of the stir was a presentation (pdf) by the Environmental Protection Agency's Air Resources Board (CARB). The Cool Paints initiative suggests that the state should set a minimum level of reflectivity for all car paints and windows.

More reflective vehicles, goes the idea, could stay up to 10 °C cooler in the sunshine state - this in turn could reduce the need to have air conditioning on and thereby cut greenhouse-gas emissions. Read more...

Climate Changes Borders

Italy and Switzerland are planning to redraw their shared alpine border, as global warming is melting the glaciers that originally guided the line. Although peaceful, the move raises fears of future conflicts over shifting borders and resources.

Glaciers and ice fields around the world are melting as temperatures rise, with Europe's high mountains particularly hard hit. Read more...